The challenge of decoding and pursuing Gen-Z | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

The challenge of decoding and pursuing Gen-Z

ByShuchi Bansal
Jun 30, 2023 12:42 AM IST

The month also saw a webinar on Gen-Z traits and consumption patterns by the Market Research Society of India (MRSI) with data compiled from analytics firm Kantar.

If you are curious about Gen-Z, the consumers aged 15 to 27, talking to Mitesh Kothari, co-founder and chief creative officer at advertising agency White Rivers Media, may be worthwhile. His insights on this generation of people (born between mid-1990s and 2010) stem from research. Earlier this month, his agency launched Capital Z, a research-based service lab to help brands build strategies sharply focused on this consumer cohort.

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The month also saw a webinar on Gen-Z traits and consumption patterns by the Market Research Society of India (MRSI) with data compiled from analytics firm Kantar.

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Also called Zoomers, Gen-Z, who came after millennials, are on the radar of companies and researchers for their sheer size and purchasing power. Kantar estimates 116 million Gen-Z consumers in urban India. Anshul Ailawadi, Head, Youth Music and English Entertainment at Viacom18, that operates MTV among other channels, says India’s Gen-Z universe is nearly 295 million of which his TV channels address about 140 million.

Gen-Z and millennials make up 52% of the country’s population, says Myntra, citing industry reports. “This makes the cohort a crucial segment for us. We expect to add another 10 million Gen-Zers to our customer base over the next two years, scaling from 8.6 million in 2022,” says Bindiya Bhatt, senior director, category management, Myntra.

Supposed to be in college during the pandemic, the segment exhibited exponential growth in spending power. “They were buying stocks, sneakers and cryptos. Suddenly their potential hit the companies,” Kothari says.

Although the older Gen-Zs have been in the workforce for a couple of years, most have a secondary source of income. Ailawadi calls it a monetizable ‘side hustle,’ a behaviour he thinks emerged from the massive job losses witnessed during the pandemic.

Among their unique traits are boldly embracing their authentic selves and challenging norms more than any of their previous generations, Bhatt feels. “It’s these traits that make them seek products and brands that align with their distinct identities,” she says.

Kothari agrees. Unlike the millennials who felt the pressure to conform or fit-in given their small-town or marginalized backgrounds, this group values self-expression. “Being different is cool,” he says.

Also, since it is the first generation to grow up with the Internet as a part of their daily lives, they are not only working, shopping, dating and making friends online, their identity too is shaped by technology. They have a digital life where they seek representation, Kothari says.

Ironically, the family is a major social and emotional anchor for the digital natives. “The importance of the family has emerged in a much stronger way than what it was four or six or eight years back, and I say this because we do exhaustive youth studies every two years,” Ailawadi says.

All this makes marketing to Gen-Z challenging since they defy the conventional marketing playbooks. What’s problematic is that marketers themselves are not from this generation, says Kothari. Plus, these youngsters went through a life changing experience of the lockdown and were confined at home in their prime years. Ailawadi agrees. “It’s true that CEOs and marketers have an ‘affinity bias’ and a natural tendency to say ‘When I was 18…’. But it’s a different world today,” he says.

Myntra’s Bhatt says Gen-Z seeks unique shopping experiences. Keeping their purchasing power and digital proficiency in mind, the company launched FWD -- a differentiated in-app user experience on the Myntra platform. “FWD enables consumers with a ‘trend-spotting-to-shopping’ experience by bringing daily drop widgets, celeb style files from popular Instagram influencers and a photo search feature that helps them bridge the trend spotting to shopping journey,” says Bhatt.

The Gen-Z cohort is more demanding on the price-to-performance ratio, Bhatt cautions. “It’s worth noting that they don’t shy away from making expensive purchases, but they expect the quality of the product to match its pricing,” she says.

The bigger challenge in targeting them is the fact that they lack neither choice nor information. “They want tailormade products and a say in products and services made for them. That is an issue as most of the current brand models do not involve consumers in the process,” says Kothari.

Brand purpose is top of mind too. They not only seek to be part of a brand story, they want to know what a brand stands for and wants to create.

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